Senescence-associated IL-6 and IL-8 cytokines induce a self- and cross-reinforced senescence/inflammatory milieu strengthening tumorigenic capabilities in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line

Abstract : Background: There is compelling evidence associating senescent cells with the malignant progression of tumours. Of all senescence-related mechanisms, the so-called senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) has attracted much attention. Since the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-8 are consistently present in the SASP, and secreted by highly aggressive breast cancer cell lines, we aimed at elucidating their role on the less aggressive breast cancer cell line MCF-7, which does not secret these cytokines. Methods: The MCF-7 cell line was treated with either senescence-conditioned medium (SCM), IL-6 or IL-8 and then evaluated for phenotypic (CD44 and CD24 by FACS) and functional changes associated with an EMT program (migration/invasion) and for the acquisition of stem cell properties: mammosphere-forming capacity, expression of reprogramming factors (by qRT-PCR) and multilineage differentiation potential. We also evaluated the role of IL6 and IL8 in the cytokine-secreting, highly tumorigenic cell line MDA-MB-231. Results: Our results show that treatment of MCF-7 cells with IL6 and IL8, alone or together, induced the appearance of cells with fibroblastoid morphology, increased CD44 expression and migration, self-renewal and multilineage differentiation capacity, all characteristics compatible with an EMT program and stemness. These changes closely resembled those induced by a SCM. Interestingly, SCM treatments further increased IL6 and IL8 secretion by MCF-7 cells, thus suggesting the participation of an autocrine loop. Indeed, neutralizing antibodies against IL6 and IL8 reversed the effects of SCM on MCF-7, pinpointing these cytokines as major mediators of EMT and stemness-related effects associated with the senescent microenvironment. Additionally, prolonged exposure of MCF cells to IL6 or IL8 induced the appearance of senescent cells, suggesting a mechanism by which senescence and inflammation are reinforced favouring the acquisition of EMT and stem-like features at the population level, thus increasing tumour aggressiveness. Strikingly, our results also show that both IL6 and IL8 are important to maintain aggressive traits in MDA-MB-231 cells, a highly tumorigenic cell line, which appears to be devoid of stemness-related features. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that, similar to what is observed with a senescent microenvironment, purified IL6 and IL8 induce a self- and cross-reinforced senescence/inflammatory milieu responsible for the emergence of epithelial plasticity and stemness features, thus conferring more aggressive phenotypes to a luminal breast cancer cell line. On the other hand, the basal-like MDA-MB-231 cells, whose aggressiveness-related features depend on IL6 and IL8 secretion, almost completely lack mammosphere formation and differentiation capacities, suggesting that tumour aggressiveness is not always related to stemness.
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Cell Communication and Signaling, BioMed Central, 2017, 15, pp.17. 〈10.1186/s12964-017-0172-3〉
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Paola Ortiz-Montero, Arturo Londono-Vallejo, Jean-Paul Vernot. Senescence-associated IL-6 and IL-8 cytokines induce a self- and cross-reinforced senescence/inflammatory milieu strengthening tumorigenic capabilities in the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line. Cell Communication and Signaling, BioMed Central, 2017, 15, pp.17. 〈10.1186/s12964-017-0172-3〉. 〈hal-01541579〉

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